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David vs Goliathby: John Gallup
Editor and Publisher
© May 2014
On Saturday, September 1, 2007, my wife and I were driving through Boone, North Carolina on vacation. The normally bustling main street in the picturesque Blue Ridge mountain town was deserted. It was the first day of the college football season and the local school, Appalachian State, was probably playing.
It wasn’t until we checked into our inn that we found out that App State was shocking the world – leading Michigan at halftime in Ann Arbor, 28-17.
This game wasn’t on anyone’s radar. It was the typical David vs. Goliath, road FCS team collecting a paycheck against a FBS home team looking to start the season with a cakewalk against an overmatched opponent. Las Vegas didn’t even post a point spread. Yet, here were the Mountaineers from Boone besting the 5th-ranked Wolverines in the Big House.
We listened to much of the second half in the car on the local radio station. Even though it was nearly seven years ago, you probably remember what happened in the 4th quarter. App State blocked a Michigan field goal and then added one of their own to take a 34-32 lead with 26 seconds remaining. But a long completion left Michigan in range for the winning field goal as time was about to expire.
Miraculously, the Mountaineers blocked their second field goal of the game to seal the unfathomable upset in front of 109,000 shocked Wolverine fans. If you’ve never heard the Appalachian State radio call of the block kick that ended the game, you can listen to it on You Tube here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5JPeJnRi6s. It captures the insane jubilation and shock of one of the greatest upsets ever in college football. Beers were on the house that night in Boone.
How did a small FCS school from a town of 17,000 go into the largest football stadium in America, beat the team with the most wins ever in college football and pull off perhaps the biggest upset in college football history? What can you do to prepare your team when facing a superior opponent and give you a shot at pulling off an upset of your own?
This month, we talk to seven prominent college and high school coaches who overcame long odds to lead their teams to big upsets last season. Their tips on game week preparation, motivation, game management and managing emotions can help every team in America, because eventually every team will be an underdog.
Looking ahead to this year’s opening weekend in college football, I’m circling Saturday, August 30, when Appalachian State again visits Michigan and tries to make lightning strike twice.
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